Gov. Mike Lowry has told his State Patrol protection unit to break its strict code of confidentiality to cooperate with an independent review of allegations he sexually harassed his former deputy press aide.
Patrol Chief Roger Bruett met with the executive protection unit Friday to give them permission to be interviewed by Seattle attorney Mary Alice Theiler. The patrol had no further comment.
The troopers provide around-the-clock protection of the governor and his family, at official functions, on trips and at home.
Traditionally, the troopers have followed an unwritten rule that anything they see or hear remains confidential, the governor’s legal counsel, Kent Caputo, said in an interview Friday.
Caputo said the bodyguards wanted to be silent regarding allegations by former aide Susanne Albright that the governor persistently harassed her.
“It isn’t about their loyalty to Gov. Lowry, not that they’re not loyal. But it’s more about being loyal to the office of the governor and their commitment to protecting the chief executive,” he said.
“It has less to do with Lowry personally than with the integrity of their job. They would rather hold confidences, short of being subpoenaed. The issue is trust.”
Lowry acknowledged the unwritten code in his letter to Bruett.
“I am aware of and appreciate the tradition and policy of the unit to keep the confidences of those they are assigned to protect,” he wrote. “However, the unique nature of the situation at hand dictates at least some limited response by those individuals with relevant information.”
He said he wants the guards to cooperate with Theiler “to the extent they have information related to the allegations. … I wish this request in no way to alter or upset the current general policy of the unit, but instead to recognize the uniqueness of the present situation and the overriding need to fully and fairly reach resolution through the review process in place.”
Caputo said the troopers’ interviews will be scheduled before he schedules a meeting between the governor and Theiler.
Caputo said he expects the probe to be concluded soon, but that Theiler has no deadline and has not hinted when her report will be ready.
“She is independent and I am trying my best not to pry,” he said.